Friday, January 30, 2009

Going Quiet - in Memoriam

When I get bad news, I mean really, really bad news, I "go quiet." I want to sit, to think, and prepare my resolve for what lies ahead.

I'm in that frame of mind right now. Someone I knew well (pictured above in happier times, seated in my Harley for a photo op), just died today. I worked hard for him, cared a lot about him, and extended my caring to his family and larger loyal legion. This gentleman is a man whose political campaign I worked on to be elected to our County Council during a special election that had to be held after his wife, my mentor and dear friend, died -- eerily, one year ago today.

I am exploring my feelings through my faith. If you send me an email and I don't reply, don't take it personally. I just need some space, some time, and some cuddle time with my partner. He knows how to show that he cares, just to sit with me by my side, hold my hand, and love me. Let me cry, let me scream, let me express myself. And just listen. My partner is the world's #1 listener. What a treasure he is to me.

I kindly ask my loyal blog readers to be patient as I work through what will be difficult days ahead with emotions, and build my strength to help my friend's family during their time of need. This whole situation is so very sad, and I'm heartbroken. But I'll be back; I'll just be less on-line for a while.

Neither Rain Nor Sleet

This is the oath or motto of the U.S. Postal Service: Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. But it is a bunch of bull.

We had 2" of snow on Tuesday. We got our mail that day, albeit at 7:30pm. But it's usually late, often arriving between 4:30 and 6:00pm.

Tuesday night through Wednesday, we had sleet and rain. Yep, it made the streets slick, but OPM didn't close the Federal Government, and my partner and I were able to our respective places of employment in Washington, DC. Yet we did not get any mail delivery on Wednesday.

Perhaps I could understand that because it was icy. We made it, but my truck has 4-wheel drive. Those trucks used by the postal carriers have very poor traction. Okay, I'll give 'em a break.

Yesterday, Thursday, it was bright and sunny. The temperature climbed so that much of the icy roadways melted. By afternoon, our street cleared itself. I worked at home, and took some time out to take advantage of the sun's help to fully clear my driveway and sidewalks from accumulated ice. I also noticed while I was working outside that deliveries were made to neighbors by UPS, DHL, and FedEx. But... once again... no U.S. mail.

Two days in a row... no mail. This is absurd. Especially since schools re-opened on Thursday (though two hours late.)

And don't try to find the name of your local Postmaster or the telephone number of your local post office on-line. They're very good at hiding this information from you. I happen to know the contact information for my local P.O., but only because I persisted in finding it out a few months ago when they lost a piece of certified mail and blamed me for not returning the notification card on time (which I did, but they lost the card in addition to losing the mail which eventually showed up, but that's another story.)

It was all over the news that the President was astounded that his daughters' school was closed for two days. He was incredulous because they never close schools due to weather in Chicago where he lived prior to moving to DC.

All I can say, Mr. O, is "welcome to the Cone of Dumbness." Yep, DC is composed of a bunch of weather wimps. And if I hear one more person interviewed on the news who says, "our winter weather in the DC area is worse than Chicago's because we get ice" (emphasis on the "i-word"), I'll scream. Face it, there are more attorneys per square centimeter in the DC area than in Chicago, so the schools close because of fear of legal action. I even heard one local school superintendent interviewed on the news stating pretty much the same concern.

Meanwhile, I'll be lookin' for my mail. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Chance Encounter

One of the things that is sort of magic about working in Washington, DC, is the potential for chance encounters with well-known people.

The best time to go see tourist sites in DC is in January through early March, before Spring break when the throngs of tourists start to arrive, and keep coming through summer. Except for the occasional group of school kids on a field trip, you usually find the museums, monuments, and other attractions uncrowded in the bleak winter months. You can take your time to stroll around and not get jostled by others, or be asked to "move along" by building guards because you're holding up the line.

On Tuesday, a colleague from work and I decided to go explore the new Capitol Visitor's Center, which was built underneath the U.S. Capitol Building. This monumental behemoth, which cost $621M ($440M over budget) to build and took three years longer than planned to open, now serves as the gathering place for tourists wishing to see the Capitol Building, and for visitors who have business with Congress in the actual Capitol Building. (Most visitors who have business with Members of Congress meet with them in their respective offices, which are in nearby Senate or House office buildings).

When you get to the Visitor's Center, of course you have to go through a magnetometer. I even had to "get wanded" since my Chippewa Firefighter Boots I was wearing set off the alarm. I just rolled my eyes and endured it, and tried not to remember the happy-go-lucky days of my youth when you could walk right into the Capitol Building and wander around on your own.

You make your way to a ticket desk. The clerk was delighted to tell me that they had "a few walk-up tickets available." Yeah, right... "a few." The place was fairly empty. We decided to pick a time for our tour a little later, so we could walk around and have lunch, too. The restaurant in the Visitor's Center is nice, but it is pricey. Even the Smithsonian eateries are less expensive than this place. Perhaps they're trying to make up their cost over-runs on the backs of visitors. But I digress....

When we queued up for our tour, we were escorted into a large theater, where we were shown a movie about the Capitol and Congress. As one would expect, the Capitol's history is as storied as it is magnificent. And Congress thinks the world of itself. But I digress....

After the movie, you exit the rear of the theater and are given a wireless headset. A tour guide briskly walks you around and you end up in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. The Guide explains the art and frescos, and some of the history of the building. Even though perhaps I'm jaded about Congress, I still remain in awe and stare with wonder at the Capitol, especially from the inside. It is indeed magnificent.

As I was staring gape-jawed upward at the art within the Rotunda, I heard a Capitol Police Officer say rather loudly, "stay here, don't move!" I looked around, and saw that my little tour group was being herded against a wall. We were told, "just wait here a minute." I thought that perhaps the Vice President, who is the President of the Senate, might be walking by.

Well, yes, he did... and so did the President! I actually got to see and wave at President Obama. The President had come to the Capitol that day to plead his case for the Economic Stimulus package. It is not common for the President to come to the Capitol to press for passage of legislation. But this legislation is the biggest thing that Congress has considered in quite some time, and is very important to the President, and to our country.

So here I am, standing there, gape-jawed again. The President really looks like he does on TV. His smile is warm and gracious, he seemed quite friendly and affable. He reached over to shake hands with a couple kids who were in the front row of our group. Then he quickly walked down the hall into the Office of the Speaker of the House, which is right off of the Rotunda area.

Wow... cool, huh? This doesn't happen every day to us commoners.

The Capitol Visitor's Center is nice. However, except for some statues and large paintings, the place is rather barren. The movie is nice. The tour, however, is really short. You don't get to see much. But heck, it's free, and it's our Capitol, where the people's work is done. If you visit, live, or work in DC, go see it. Your visit should take about an hour to 90 minutes. You can even get tour tickets for free on-line in advance at this link. I strongly recommend that after you tour the Capitol through the Visitor's Center, to use the tunnel and go visit the Library of Congress, just across the street. Now that is an amazing place. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bedrock of Our Relationship

Earlier, I blogged about my relationship with my partner, and that it's not all based on sex, as some straight guys think. I also described several differences between my partner and me. That caused my best friend to ask me about it... so let me elaborate further about the "good stuff" besides sex.

I am describing what forms the bedrock, or foundation, of our relationship. Our differences are there, but what we have in common is greater than our differences.

Ultimately, the foundation of what caused each of us to say to ourselves, "he's someone I want to spend my life with" is based on these shared values:
  • Trust. First and foremost, we trust each other. We never do anything that would compromise that trust. We both get highly irritated by gay guys who play around behind their partner's backs, have profiles on Recon, GearFetish, or GayRomeo that the other doesn't know about and who use those profiles to meet other guys, and on and on. My partner knows where I am on the 'net and where I am when I am not at home. For example, if I go on a business trip and meet someone who I have met on the 'net, I tell my partner about the planned visit in advance and then I tell him all about it after we've met. My website, this blog, and my other internet profiles all state clearly that I'm in a monogamous relationship and while I enjoy making friends, that's IT. I have never given my partner reason to doubt my honesty, nor has he done that either. Trust is a value that is maintained throughout a relationship by constant work. We both communicate with each other so that the trust remains solid and strong.

  • Honesty. Being honest with one another is what maintains the trust we have in each other. We never lie to each other. If we make a mistake, we own up to it and fix it.

  • Financial Matters. We are two peas in a pod when it comes to money. We don't spend money that we don't have. We don't borrow. We pay our bills in full and on time. We have no interest in buying or having the next new toy, "thing," or gadget, just because it's there or other people have it. We sit down with each other every month and review our combined household budget, bills, and our checking and savings accounts. Each of us knows where our money is, where it went, and what our priorities are for future spending. Our financial priorities are intuitively the same. It's often quoted that some of the biggest fights that couples have is over money matters. I am delighted to say that in our case, that is never an issue.

  • Respect. Man, we're different, but we respect our differences. We respect that each of us has his own thoughts and insights that he brings to the discussion and to the relationship. We respect that we do different things in our respective professional lives. My partner respects that I have a strong interest in politics and civic affairs, and supports my activities as the man behind the scenes. This value, respect, forms the foundation for how we communicate with each other. Even when we disagree, we discuss what factors or issues we disagree with, and not make the disagreement personal. This is how we show respect for one another even if we're not in agreement.

  • Family. While one may not think that family has anything to do with a relationship, where I am going here is that we both treasure family in our own ways. We appreciate that we care for others. My partner works hard to help his mother, and I care for my elderly aunt regularly. We each value that we spend time and energy extending our care to those we love. We think that is important.

  • Love. I almost said, "this goes without saying," but you really have to express it in words and in actions, each and every day. From a hug and a kiss, to a smile and an embrace, to saying each time we greet or part, "I love you." This is incredibly important. And each of us never forgets to tell and show his mate that he loves him.

  • Who Is Number One. I said this in my earlier post today, but wish to reaffirm, that to each of us, the other is Number One, numero uno, il primo. Whenever we do anything, we're always asking ourselves, "how would he feel about that?" or "what would he think?" or "how would this help him?" or things like that. We keep our priorities straight (... the only straight thing about us) that our first and foremost person is our mate.
So, that's that. Everything listed above is a description of core values. Our relationship, our partnership, is based on sharing these values. It is pretty simple, but somewhat complex at the same time. Maintaining a healthy relationship is work. Some people try to make a relationship work and when it doesn't, it is because some of the basic values on which the relationship was built were compromised. That's why I consider myself richly blessed, because my man works as hard as I do in order to ensure that our relationship, our partnership endures through the tests on which we are challenged each day.

It's Not All Sex

I get amused by the straight guys who react with a bit of fear and some curiosity about how us "gay guys" live. There seems to be an ongoing thought among the straight world that sex is the only thing that gay men "do" or that keeps them together.

Sorry to burst your bubble, straight guys, but just like you, what attracts us gay guys to our mates is more than physical attributes.

So for my 300th post here on Blogger, I thought I would talk a bit about the relationship I have with my man, and while sex is part of it, it's not the only thing.

As with all couples, we have our ups and downs, our good times and our bad. We think differently, and react to what goes on in our lives differently. My partner is a wonderful man in many respects; he is honest, intelligent, trustworthy, and romantic. But we're not always in sync and despite what some may think, we have our share of "challenges." After all, we're human.

Here's where we're different:
  • I enjoy people and socializing while my partner is a recluse. He strongly dislikes socializing.

  • I am a visionary, and tend to talk through what I'm thinking about before having a concrete plan. My partner is like Joe Friday, "just the facts, sir" and that's it.

  • I am a conversationalist. I believe in talking through disagreements, finding common ground, and achieving consensus. My partner becomes highly annoyed when I talk too much and don't get to the point soon enough.

  • When something comes to my partner's attention that has to be done, such as refilling the napkin container or paying a bill for his mother, he drops everything and does it -- even if it's right in the middle of dinner. I make lists and plan ahead, and organize each of my actions in logical order. I'm not saying my partner is illogical; his methods of organization and prioritizing are vastly different from mine.

  • When my partner is in pain, which due to his disability is frequent, he reacts with emotion and says things that he doesn't mean. He can get ugly and difficult, and there's no reasoning with una mente testadura molta. I can't relate to his medical condition because I have no idea what it's like to live with chronic, severe pain. I just suck it up and let him rant.

  • When I get busy with things going on at work, meetings in the community, and helping my "elder buds" and family, I sometimes have trouble saying "no" and offer to do more, or spend more time away from home. My partner gets somewhat irritated when I do that. I have to remember that he's my #1, and devote time to "just us."
All-in-all, we have a great relationship, but it is work. Just like straight couples have to work on their relationships. Couples don't "get along" just because they have good sex (though that's helpful [smile]); couples endure as a couple because they respect one another, are honest with each other, communicate on an ongoing basis, and pay attention to one another.

And having a good relationship includes a continuous "dose" of romance throughout, from little things like baking him heart-shaped cookies, to snuggling up next to him on the couch, to just holding him and giving him a big hug, to chasing him around the house sometimes, laughing and giggling when he lets me "catch" him. He brings me flowers, scratches my "itchy back," and frequently is romantic with me in other small but most-noticed ways, as well.

So it's not all sex. It's a relationship -- love, respect, thought, words, and deeds. My relationship with my partner means the world to me, so despite how crazy-busy I get with other things, there are times when I say, "no, sorry, I can't attend that function" or "no, sorry, I'm busy" because I'm paying attention to my #1. My one-and-only, my man, my love, my partner.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Cone of Dumbness

Do you remember the "cone of silence" that never worked in the TV comedy Get Smart? Well in Washington, DC, we have the "Cone of Dumbness." It sits right over the beltway that surrounds the city. Every time the weather forecasters predict a "snow event," the cone comes down and without a doubt, everyone inside it goes brain dead.

Today "they" predict two inches (5cm) of snow to fall during the day. Mind you, it's NOT snowing yet (at 6:30am ET). OMG, you would think the end of the world is here. What's worse is that later this evening, we may get up to to 2" of sleet -- predicted to fall in the evening. Sure, tomorrow will be bad for commuting, but not today. Though you wouldn't know it from all the mass hysteria.

Last night, I forgot about the snow prediction, and dropped by the grocery store on my way home from work to get some grated cheese for dinner. Ooops... shouldn't have done that. The lines were incredibly long and it looked like the store had been decimated. I kid you not, one guy who couldn't find a cart was standing in line juggling milk, butter, eggs, diapers, and a bunch of other stuff, while cradling a cell phone in his ear, whining to his wife about the store not having whatever he wanted to eat for dinner. I bailed from the store and just came home.

Then at a meeting last night, would you believe one woman even had the temerity to ask the local zoning officials if schools would be closed today. The zoning folks have nothing to do with deciding if and when to close schools. Just what was this woman thinking? (or smoking?)

The TV news isn't any help at all -- they hype it up so much that it's no wonder everyone goes nuts. And you'd think: a large number of residents of the DC area come from "snow country." That is, they came here from places that would get lots of snow every winter. They handled it just fine. They dressed properly for it, too. But not those who now live or work within the "cone of dumbness."

This morning, the SUVs are on the road, in 4-wheel drive mode -- and it's not snowing (yet). This little snippet from a local news source just had me rolling on the floor laughing:

Bill is making plans for getting out and getting to work today. "If it shuts a few things down, it probably won't shut down that much. And I have four-wheel drive, so it's about time I got to use it."

I just betcha he's the type of guy who gets in his 4WD and tries to drive on ice like it's a dry road on a sunny day. I'll see him (or his kind) in a ditch on the side of the road, standing next to his vehicle, out in the snow, yapping on a cell phone. It happens all the time.

Salt trucks are idling in the parking lot, waiting for the "go" signal. Schools closed for the prediction. And at the Metro subway stop were the yuppies in their tassled loafers or dress wingtips, thin socks, suit jacket, no hat, no gloves. I betcha the minute they see a flake of snow in the air, each and every one of them will be trying to rush home before they get snowed in for the rests of the century.

I'm so glad I don't have a response role any more as I had with previous employers. I can just sit back, watch, and have a good laugh at the "cone of dumbness" doing its thing: causing the yuppies to "lose it" and get hysterical over a dusting of snow. I'll just wait patiently in my office for the crowds to thin out, then meet my partner and go home. Carefully, but dressed appropriately with tall, warm boots, cord pants and longjohns, several layers on top, a coat with a hood, and mittens (which are warmer than gloves). We'll be okay.

And for those of you from snow belt areas, don't laugh too hard at this. It's just a part of the local DC culture -- forget everything you learned and rush into mass hysteria all for a few flakes of snow.

Life is short: enjoy it, even if it's about stupid stuff!

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Cop Outfit Are You With?

I wore my black leather jeans with the blue stripe on the side yesterday. I like these jeans; they are very comfortable, and are made of thick high-quality top-grain cowhide. They were made custom for me by Northbound Leather of Toronto, Canada. My partner got them for me as a Christmas present in 2005.

I wore these jeans throughout a busy day, where I prepared some pasta and beef dishes for the week ahead. I also made a home-made apple pie, with a home-made crust and fresh apples that were on sale at the grocery store. (I wonder where they got fresh apples to sell for $0.68/lb this time of year???)

Between cookin' up stuff in the kitchen, I visited my friends who fell on Saturday. Both are doing fine. (No mention of the leather. It's no big deal to those who know me.)

Later, my partner and I went to a big-box electronics retailer to get an HD Tivo -- not that I really care much, but my partner wants it so he can download movies and watch programs he records in HD. While I was at the store, a guy came up to me and asked, "What cop outfit are you with? Those are Dehner boots, right? You ride? What cops around here wear leather?" He was dead serious, and seemed to be very interested in the leather jeans, the boots, and the guy in them.

My partner stood to the side and watched. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was quite amused.

I answered the guy's questions honestly, and said that I'm not a cop, but I do ride a Harley. I also confirmed that despite what both he and I might like to see, no motorcops in the area wear leather breeches or pants -- or even leather jackets. Just boots. He said, "oh" and shrugged.

He smiled, thanked me for the info, and then noticed my partner behind me. He asked, "is he with you?" I smiled, and said, "yes he is. He's my partner!" The guy's eyes lit up as he said "hi" to my partner. He thanked me for answering his questions, and bid his farewell. The conversation and encounter was kinda fun. It's nice to enjoy wearing leather when we're out and about, and have these chance conversations.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Hell Being Old

I tell 'ya, it's hell being old. And while it may sound like I am speaking about myself, this time I'm not. I spent the day on Saturday with some older neighbors. I had thought that it might take an hour or two in order to get some small chores done, but ... well... one thing led to another.

At first, Mrs. T needed some help moving some boxes out of storage. Fine. I went with her to the storage room, unlocked the door, and got the first box. She picked up a very small, light box, and as she was carrying it up a flight of stairs, she lost her balance and fell because she couldn't see where she was going. I felt badly that I wasn't close enough to prevent a fall. Fortunately she didn't break anything. But the fall shook her up, and made her feel afraid to walk any more. I carefully helped her return to her home.

I brewed her a cup of tea, gave her some acetominophen, and just talked for a while. That made her feel better. (Made me feel better, too, because as she recomposed herself, I was assured that there was no physical injury from a pretty hard fall.)

... two hours elapse ...

I'm now at my aunt's home paying bills and reviewing her meds. She had another new med prescribed by a neurologist yesterday. This new med is designed to work in combination with another med she already takes. I was reading the package insert, and it kept saying that the drug combo is particularly well-suited to treat Alzheimer's Disease. Oh sheesh... her diagnosis is dementia, but now the doc changed the meds to treat something more frightening. I didn't have the heart to tell her. But her memory is so bad (thus the drugs), she wouldn't remember if I did tell her. And I wonder, does it matter at age 94, anyway?

... an hour later ...

I'm back home, learning more about the condition of a friend who serves in local elected office and who was very recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and remains hospitalized. Darn! His wife, who was a very dear friend of mine (and also served in that same office for 17 years), died almost a year ago. This is really distressing news.

... then the phone rings ...

Mr. S, one of my bocci-playing buds with whom I converse in Italian so I can keep up my language skills, called and asked me to come over but wasn't very clear about why. I didn't press; I just hopped in my truck and went over there. I found him on the floor of his bedroom, wedged between the large queen-size bed and the wall. He was stuck! He said that he lost balance while changing the sheets and fell into that position.

It was easy enough for me to pull the bed away and help him get out of his predicament. But he couldn't do it himself because he no longer had the strength. He told me that he had been stuck that way for about three hours, and finally decided that there just wasn't any way he could move. He pulled the phone's cord that was within reach (thank goodness!) and thought to call me. He said that he called me because my phone number is easy to remember, and he didn't want to call the rescue squad because he really didn't have that "level" of emergency (so he thought.) Well, anyway, he's okay.

But it is Hell Being Old!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Driving and Cell Phone Yakkers!

This is a post about my ongoing tirade about those nuts who yak away on their precious cell phones while attempting to operating a 5,000+ pound machine. Hang the f--- up and drive!

After witnessing a fellow biker get creamed on a highway five years ago by a cell-phone yapping yuppie who said, "I didn't see him," I have been on a tear to get my state's legislature to adopt a law to ban using a cell phone or texting while driving. Ideally, ban all forms of communication in all ways while driving -- and that includes using hands-free devices.

Well, that ain't gonna work. (The hands-free ban)... but, here I am again facing this year's legislature where the senator from my district has proposed, once again, a law to prohibit talking on a cell phone or texting while driving. Yeah, Mike, I'll be there with you, again, to testify on the bill and attempt, once again, to persuade the committee to pass the bill out of committee to the full State Senate and then to the House and get signed by the Governor.


[Oh man, do I feel exactly what the back of the shirt in this photo that I found on the 'net expresses.]

But again, I remain skeptical. I mean, after all, with a part-time legislature who lives, eats, and breathes on their electronic gizmos to talk, text, and even to write legislation while driving (honestly, you should see the laptop setup in one Delegate's car!), I just don't think it's going to work. But we'll give it the old college try, once more.

And I still have my doubts after observing what happens when a law is passed, but not enforced. I work in the District of Columbia. DC passed a law two years ago that prohibited use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

I often take walks at lunchtime. For the past several months, I have stood on a busy corner for about 5 minutes and counted the number of drivers who go past and who are yakking on their hand-held cell phones. On average, within five minutes, I count 89 drivers yakking away on hand-held phones. I have never once seen anyone given a ticket for the offense. So I question, why pass a law if it isn't enforced?

Come on, people! Wake up! We managed to survive quite well in the era before cell phones were invented. I know some of you don't remember that time, but we didn't communicate back then by chiseling on stone tablets, either. The world still turned 'round, and business still got done when you couldn't yak away on your cell 24/7. Just be reasonable: hang up and drive!

Rant ended... for now. Look for me in Annapolis this session, once again, where I'll continue to bang my head on the proverbial marble wall about this issue.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thanks for the Money, Now Go Home!

My goodness, my hometown is still a trash heap after the concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, the Presidential Inauguration and Parade on Tuesday, and the right-to-lifers lame protest on Thursday. While one conservative blog is blaming all the trashing of DC on supporters of Obama, what it isn't blogging about is all the trash left behind by the right-to-lifers on Thursday. Most of them are (R)-people, and are just as messy as anyone else.

Thanks for coming, thanks for spending over US$1,000,000,000 (yeah, that's right, US$1 Billion) for our local economy. But thanks also for leaving over 90 tons of trash that's blowing around the city, and thanks for absolutely ruining whatever turf there was on the national Mall. It's all a big dirt pile now. GO HOME! ... and take your trash with you.

This video that I found on YouTube is interesting, and at least shows a positive attitude about cleaning up the mess:



Thanks, also, for breaking all ridership records on our subway. According to Metro, "With hundreds of thousands of people in town for the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Metrorail set a new record for the transit agency's highest ridership on Tuesday, Jan. 20, when rail rides alone accounted for 1,120,000 trips surpassing the previous Metrorail high of 866,681 trips, which occurred the previous day, on Monday, Jan. 19."

Our city is trashed, our Metro is limping toward recovery, but the local shops, restaurants, and businesses are enjoying an economic boom from all the food & drink you bought, as well as the trinkets and treasures you took back home with you. (A "snatch" from a post-inaugural "deal" got me a really warm Obama sweatshirt for US$1 this morning -- and you lucky visitors paid US$35 for it earlier this week. ha ha!)

Us locals just want some peace and quiet. Sheesh! What a week!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Motorcycle Boot Guide

It is nice to have friends in the boot world. BootGuyOH and WescoBear did me a big favor and reviewed the latest tutorial that I wrote, a Guide to Motorcycle Boots. These guys are fellow booted bikers, and know their boots like I do. I give each of them a very warm and public "THANK YOU" for their help, which improved this Guide.

What inspired me to create this Guide? I was noticing that a number of people were entering keywords into internet search engines looking for "best motorcycle boots" or "motorcycle boot reviews" and things like that. Some would end up on my website. Then one guy a few weeks ago sent me a question about motorcycle boots and which ones were "best." I gave him a rather long answer, then thought to myself, "that information should be retained on my website so I won't have to repeat it again if someone else asks, and perhaps it would be helpful to others." Thus, once more, was borne a "Guide." I have a half-dozen of these types of Guides on my website now. I will wait a few weeks to see if search engines do a better job of directing people who have questions about motorcycle boots, their style, comfort, design, durability, and cost to my website.

Meanwhile, visit my Guide to Motorcycle Boots. I hope you find it helpful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Historic Day

One can't help but be moved by the peaceful transition of power as our 44th President took the oath of office.

I had a great view of the activities, but from multiple screens in a huge room where operations were being monitored. I enjoyed that, actually. I sat there, Dehner booted, with a bunch of (very young) civilian law enforcement guys and military dudes, watching events unfold. Everything remained peaceful, and all visitors -- gazillions of them -- were able to enjoy the events from the swearing-in of the President to the parade, as late as it got started and lasted.

Some folks on local news were complaining about how cold it was and that they thought they could endure it, but decided to turn back and go home. But about every five minutes, there was yet another teary-eyed person on the news saying that they never thought "this" could happen -- the election and assumption of the Office of the President of the United States by someone who is African-American.

Those gathered where I was applauded at some major points in the President's Inaugural speech. Some of them also applauded at Prez 43, which I could not do. I didn't boo him (as was reported that some people observing the ceremonies did), but I sure was happy to see him go. And especially, to see that evil Deputy Prez get into a limo and be driven away.

I am pleased that as far as I could tell, our Metro system didn't collapse, though there was one major problem when a woman fell or got pushed onto the tracks during the height of the morning travel time. Fortunately, she wasn't injured badly and was rescued by a visiting cop. The rest of the reports indicated that the Metro functioned -- so I eat my words when I predicted its failure the other day.

I am happy. I am very happy. Same is true for my partner, most of my family, friends, and neighbors, as well as most other Americans today. Let's look forward to working together for a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching

Today, on the date of the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I am working on a special project, where I will be observing the coordinated and planned response actions of our fine law enforcement, fire departments, and other emergency response officials as they strive to provide for a safe series of events in Washington DC today. I will be able to watch today's ceremonies on large TV screens, but (fortunately) not be out in the throngs of people.

This message was posted, actually, before I got there, but was scheduled to appear on this momentous day. I'll write more about how it all went tomorrow. Let's just hope that the only problems that occur today are minor inconveniences due to crowds and cold.

Watch history, savor the moment, and let's work together to make things better. Frankly, I am sick and tired of the "terror" era, where this past President and his Deputy President did so much damage to our country in so many ways. I will be jumping for joy when I see that guy get on his helicopter, go to Andrews, get on a plane, and scram back to Texas. I wonder if they have a vault in Wyoming to stick the Deputy Prez in? Let's hope we're completely rid of the most dangerous person ever to serve in government in my lifetime.

We can make things better, we can rebuild our economy, we can reconstitute many damaged international relationships, we can bring our boys home, we can move on... one step at a time. Let's do it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day of Service

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, today was declared a national day of service in the United States. My community had a major program going to support it. My partner and I contributed to this event by collecting non-perishable food items for a local food bank. Unfortunately, since the economy is so bad, donations to the food bank have fallen off considerably.

Last week, I made a few phone calls, and got my legion of "elder buds" organized to donate some canned goods. I asked them to leave them at their door and we would come by to pick them up today. By yesterday evening, I had logged over 100 places to stop. Fortunately, I invited a couple of friends who offered to help pick up the donations since there's no way I could have made all those stops myself (even with my partner's help).

My partner has a unique relationship with a major grocery chain. We asked them to help out, and that they did. We collected a bunch of boxes of perfectly good but unsaleable food, including canned soup, boxed foods and cereals, and a lot of other stuff. We were there at 6am this morning, and we had to come back for a second load since we couldn't pack all of it into my truck. We dropped off the second load to the food bank by 8am.

Then we came home and rested for a bit. By noon, off we went again. My friends had collected about half of the donations on my list, and met us for lunch at a nearby café. The list seemed to have expanded. They told me that they showed up at one place, and found bags from nearby residences waiting as well. When they thought they might have one bag to pick up, they had 3...or 5... or in one case, 10.

My partner and I found the same. Everywhere we went, we found many more donations than expected. The generosity was overwhelming, and very gratifying. The look on the faces of the people at the food bank was great to see.

We went back and forth, between pickups, dropoffs, and home in between. All-in-all, the Food Bank folks told us that we hauled in over 2,100 items. I'm happy to have been a part of providing essential service to our community. But man oh man, am I BEAT!

Oh, what did I wear? Tall Wesco Haness boots, brown leather jeans, and layers up top (t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, coat). It was cold out, but doing all that work made me sweat a bit, so I was constantly taking off my jacket, removing a layer, and putting it back on. Oh well, I was comfortable. (And nope, no one said a thing about the leather jeans or the boots, except one cute little old lady who said, "those boots look big. I mean really big!" I just laughed, and thanked her for her donation).

Hangin' Out In Full Leather

I had a great Sunday. My partner and I woke slowly, snuggled warmly together. We probably cuddled and talked for an hour before I got up, dressed in full leather, and went out to get the Sunday paper. Then I prepared a great Cialda brunch (waffles), with all the trimmings. I love to prepare a big Sunday brunch when I can. (Of course, "brunch" for us is about 9am, but that's really late -- for us!)

And yeah, there I am in full leather. Why not? After all, it is "leather weekend" in DC, and I just enjoy wearing it. (And no, that's not my hair falling in my eyes; it's a bad angle of the camera, catching something on the wall behind me. My partner isn't much of a photographer, but he tries.)


After brunch, I went to the grocery store to buy some stuff we needed for today's culinary creations, and also to get some things for some elderly friends. I wore my Chippewa Hi-Shine boots, side-laced leather jeans, leather shirt, and my Taylor's leather cop jacket. No one -- none of my elderly friends, no one at the store, not one of the six neighbors and fellow community activists I spoke with -- no one nowhere -- said a thing about all the leather. They just asked me questions, talked about various community issues, the weather, and so on. No one cares about me being in leather.

My favorite grocery store staffer asked me if the boots were new, and if I were riding my Harley (not -- still too cold!) I saw a guy coming into the store as I was leaving, and we both said about the same time, "nice boots!" I also gave him a very hearty smile as I said that, and he returned the same. But he had two kids in tow, so I don't think we were going to stop to chat about boots.


When I got home, my partner and I spent a quiet afternoon making pasta. Once again, we made cheese ravioli. It's easy to do, but takes some time. With nothing else on my plate since my civic duties get a week's break due to the Presidential inauguration, we got busy preparing one of our favorite meals. And it tasted great, too! Yum-ee!

All-in-all, it was a great day on Sunday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hassled - Updated

My partner and I braved the bone-chilling cold and took Metro to DC and walked to the Green Lantern bar on Saturday afternoon to attend the Hotboots party held during MAL weekend.

Unfortunately, a bartender at the venue told me that "cameras weren't allowed." This was after I had been there for an hour and had taken about 30 photos of guys in boots -- with their permission. Nonetheless, the bartender was afraid that someone seeing a camera flash might scare him away, and thus he doesn't want to lose business. (That's what he told someone else who tried to reason with him about his self-imposed rule and his crappy attitude.)

What the bartender didn't see was how many guys entered the bar and left because they didn't have ID with them. The bar enforces a 100% ID check. If you don't have acceptable ID with you, you're turned away. So the bar lost a lot of business, and I doubt anyone else would leave just because they saw a camera flash. And sure, if anyone told me that they didn't want their photo taken, I would not do that.

UPDATE: A buddy who is a citizen of Australia told me that he tried to come to the party, but got there a little late. When he presented his Australian identification, he was turned away. He was told that they only accept passports from people who do not have U.S. driver's licenses. What a crock of bull. That rule is self-imposed by the Green Lantern. I know from working with the various local police agencies that foreign official identification that shows proof of birth date is acceptable. The nut-case at the bar invented his own version of what is acceptable, or not, despite what the local police say. How awful!

There is banter on public internet boards about my problem with taking photos at the bar. One person suggested that due to observations about ongoing problems with the District of Columbia, that perhaps MAL should be moved out of DC to another venue. That ain't gonna happen:
MAL is "owned" by the Centaurs, which is a club based in Washington, DC. Of course they will hold their signature and money-making event in their home town. They're not going to move all of MAL just because one bartender down the street has a crappy attitude and someone who wasn't even registered to attend MAL had a problem.

Further, what we have to remember is that the Hotboots party is held at the same time as MAL, but isn't sponsored by MAL itself. Without an official connection between MAL and this party, no one from the Centaurs will attempt to persuade this bar to change its self-imposed rule.

Instead, I'll do this:
  • Vote with my boots and not patronize this bar. I'm sure they could care less if I don't show up any more. But if enough people don't patronize a bar whose representatives have "attitude problems," then perhaps they'll get the message (or close due to lack of business).
  • Remember that cameras aren't allowed in this bar. Okay, fine, that's their rule. I don't have to go somewhere if I can't do what I enjoy, which is to take pictures of guys in boots.
  • Make this the last time that my partner and I will go into DC during MAL weekend. As I have said before, we've long lost interest in going to that event.
UPDATE: I seriously recommend for anyone to avoid going to the Green Lantern bar. While there are few establishments in Washington, DC, that are "leather friendly," this bar has proven to be among the most unfriendly-to-anyone place there is, and does not deserve patronage. Close the damn joint. My opinion, but it's just awful, awful, awful, and the gay community should either force a change in management's narrow-minded operations, or just cause it to shut down for lack of business.

Okay, basta. There are lots of other and more worthwhile things to which to devote my time and attention.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Leather Weekend!

BHDIt's time for Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in Washington, DC! Get out your gear, condition it, shine your boots, and come on out! Don't forget to check the weather and crowd forecasts! (link). MAL is reported to be the second-largest leather fetish event in the United States, after "International Mr. Leather" (IML) in Chicago. We attended IML in May 2007 -- and once was enough. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the boots shined.

I used to, once upon a time, look forward to this weekend to hang out with other guys in leather. Now that I've been essentially married for more than 15 years, going to fetish events is not something that my partner and I are interested in doing any more.

However, we do plan to go to the Hotboots party today at the Green Lantern, then head home.

I'm sure the guys attending MAL are finding their leathers useful and practical, 'cause it sure has been darned cold! In fact, in honor of this "Leather Weekend," (and just 'cause I like to wear leather regularly), I'll be "BLUFfed" up. (For those not familiar, BLUF means "Breeches, Leather, Uniform Fetish"). I will be wearing my leathers all weekend as I go about doing things at home with my hunky partner, and being involved on Monday on a day of community service in honor of Martin Luther King's legacy.

Life is short: Wear your leather!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Metro Is Going to Fall Apart

I seldom post two message on one day, but this situation deserved it.

Warning! Warning! The famed DC Metrorail system is going to fall apart!

Presidential Inaugural planners have been worried about how the Metro system is going to be able to handle "crush-loads" (their words) of people -- somewhere around 1.5 to 2 million -- in Washington DC on January 20. And their worries are not without foundation or experience. Already this week, our Metro subway system has had some trains break down, thus throwing the rest of the system's schedule way out of whack. Crowds form quickly when even one train goes out of service.

This morning the thermometer at my home read 9°F (-13°C) when my partner dropped me off at our nearby Metro station. (Lucky dawg: he gets to work at home on Fridays). I got on the Metro as usual, and thought perhaps something was amiss when it began to run herky-jerky. It would start, then stop, then start, then stop. Thank goodness I was seated, because the stops were fast and would have caused people to lose their balance if they were standing. (None were -- it was very early before typical "rush hour" crowds).

Then the train just stopped... and announcements were made about a train in front of us in trouble. After waiting about 10 minutes, we were made to get off our train and wait on an outdoor station platform. While they made fairly regular announcements, the information was useless. "We're experiencing a train malfunction" followed by "we regret any inconvenience." Duhhhhhh! But no substantive, meaningful, information was ever given.

As I waited on that really cold platform, where the wind chill made it fell like it was below zero F (-16°C), I looked around. I wasn't surprised, but was very sorry for the large number of men standing there without a hat on their head, no gloves, and a silly thin coat or suit jacket. What were these guys thinking??? It's COOOOOLD out there! Do they expect to remain in a heated area throughout their commute??? People who fail to dress for the weather really put themselves at risk. They worry me a great deal, but I can't be responsible for irresponsible people.

Fortunately, being the preparedness guy that I am, I was wearing thick wool socks and tall leather-lined Wesco Harness boots (again), long johns, corduroy pants, and on top I was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, thick and lined corduroy shirt, sweater, and my Taylor's leather jacket with its Thinsulate® lining. I wore a warm ball cap and a biker's neck warmer and ear muffs and a scarf. Oh, and some thick biker gloves, too. So I was protected from the cold well enough. Just "inconvenienced" as Metro likes to say.

After enduring that cold for about 15 minutes, finally another train on the opposite side of the platform pulled up and we all piled on. I can just imagine how prolonged the residual "inconveniences" will be.

Let me tell 'ya, if the trains are unable to function during a light Friday rush (at the time I get on the train, it's never full)... then mark my words: I regret to predict that when the system is tested with unprecedented ridership on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 19 - 20, it's just going to fall apart. It won't be able to handle it. One or two trains will go down, then the resulting backups will create chaos.

No way, no how, no no no no no -- you will definitely not see me try to venture into Washington DC on those days. Seriously, no wonder most of the locals are leaving town. Leave the pandemonium to the tourists!

Heavy Leather

I'm sure this title will undoubtedly grab attention from the leather community -- those from around the world who visit this blog, and locally around DC who are arriving for Mid-Atlantic Leather. I thought I would post a pic of me in my warmest motorcycle jacket. This Taylor's Leatherwear Jacket is made of thick cowhide leather (9-10oz), and has a Thinsulate® lining. I definitely require a thick lining with temperatures in the single digits this morning!

This jacket is a traditional motor officer style, and even has a badge holder on the left front. It has great maneuverability when I wear it while riding my Harley. But not in these frigid temps! The bike is warm and toasty in the garage -- and like me, is longing for Spring. (Or at least a day above 40°F [4°C]!)

Also shown are my oldest pair of thick leather breeches, which are fitting me again now that I've continued to lose weight from eating light meals with smaller portions, giving up those Cokes (ooops, slipped at a meeting the other day, but otherwise, I'm drinking water), and swimming weekends at the University.

This photo is actually one of the first that I posted on my website when I first created it, back in 2005 before having on its own domain.

I'll be wearing the red-striped leather breeches and this Taylor's jacket with a newer pair of lug-soled Chippewa Hi-Shine boots to the Hotboots party at the Green Lantern on Saturday afternoon (that is, public transit and weather permitting and provided my ever-antisocial partner still wants to go.) But as I've said before, this is the only MAL Weekend event we are going to. Honestly, leather fetish events don't interest me any more. Been there, done that, got the t-shirts and the boots shined. So many once-a-year leather queens ... well, basta. After that, my hunky partner and I will come home and snuggle in our leathers and boots.

Before closing, let me give a special shout-out to a buddy who is celebrating his half-centennial today! Happy Birthday, Robert! May you have a wonderful day, and for those of us who read your blog, we'll love you with all our hearts.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tall Boots for Cold Weather

So like the rest of the United States, the DC area is bracing for the coldest temperatures yet this century. By Friday evening, it it forecast to be in the single digits (F). I know it is colder further north, but it's all relative.

I am wearing many layers, including a leather vest at work today, and my tall black Wesco harness boots. With corduroy pants that stack nicely on top of them, these boots don't look so huge.

I can't wear any additional leather at work -- it doesn't fit the dress code and considering that I have my performance appraisal today, I'm not going to attempt to challenge it (at least for today LOL!)

I will "leather up" more completely when I get home from work. But what will keep me warm is sitting with my wonderful man, holding his hand, and keeping close, then snuggling under the covers when we go to bed. Thank goodness, no meetings tonight!

Oh: the typical DC-area "brain death" or "snow freaking-out" is going on. Most school districts in the area are having a delayed opening because they saw a few flakes of snow this morning. OMG, they'll never learn. And to think, when I was a kid, I had to trudge up hill (both directions!) for miles through mountains of snow to go to school. Or so it seemed.

Nowadays, all they have to do around here is to predict snow, and the yuppies run to the grocery store to buy everything in sight, whether or not they need it, then put on their tassled loafers, top coat, no hat, no gloves, and feel invincible driving their four-wheel-drive vehicles to work. I just love it around here; seriously, I do. It is soooooo amusing!

Life is short: Wear your boots! (keep warm, and keep smiling among the ditzy-ness!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What You Like

Every website has logs that give the webmaster, or owner, of the website an idea of what pages on his website are most frequently visited. I find it fascinating, but not surprising, to check these logs and see what's interesting to the visitors of my website besides my boots and leather gear.

The "top three" sections of my website that, within the last 30 days or so, have been most viewed are, as follows:

1. My "eighth brother's" page, AZ LeatherExplorer. Yeah, he's gorgeous, but what's even better than his handsome exterior is his wonderful warm heart, terrific personality, intelligence, and value-driven integrity. No drama queen ego to be found in this man, whatsoever. I am so honored and proud to have him as an integral part of my life, as a friend so close I call him my eighth brother. (And a note to quality, down-to-earth guys: "AZ" is single. Visit his "write to AZ" page on my website and drop him a note!) Since I made a link to his page direct from the home page of my website, his page is frequently visited.

2. How To Wear Cowboy Boots. It's amazing
to me how many people put these words into a search engine, or similar phrases like "stacked jeans" or "best jeans with boots" and land on this page, thanks to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Sure, it doesn't hurt either than this page features a few images of that hot man, DaveM, whose display of "cowboy booted-ness" is the epitomy of style, class, and charm. I sincerely appreciate that Dave gave me permission to use his photos and also gave me comments which improved the content of this page.

3. Motor officers, cop boots, motorcycle police -- phrases of that nature drive many visitors to two key pages on my website: my Guide to Police Motorcycle Patrol Boots, which gives an unbiased overview of those tall black boots found on many bike cops in the U.S. The second and equally as visited related page on my website is my photo galleries of motor officer events which includes bike cops in action at motorcycle rodeos as well as close-up photos of cop boots.
Lately, I have received an unusual number of email messages complimenting me and thanking me for the information on my website. The messages have described how my website has been helpful to these visitors, ranging from guys just getting into leather and who were seeking information, to guys looking for a specific product, to men and women interested in opinions about different types of boots, or visitors who like the over 5,000 images on my website. And yeah, I even have gotten the occasional visitor who think that my website is a storefront, and wanted to know the price of this-or-that item. LOL!

Whatever the reason for visiting my website (or this blog), thanks for writing, thanks for visiting, and I'm glad you enjoy! My website and this blog have been fun to work on -- I just wish I had more time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Surprise!

I'm generally not one for surprises, and often somehow I find out about them, but not on Monday. I took the bus to meet a long-term friend for lunch. My friend is the CEO and President of a non-profit organization now. But I knew her, "when...." We go waaaaay back together, and have done a lot of things on a variety of projects and activities for years and years that have made people safer.

She told me that we were going to meet at a nice restaurant, and that a few mutual friends would also be there. The premise for our luncheon was that these old friends were in town for a meeting, and wouldn't it be nice to get together to reminisce? These old friends were part of a former team where we collaborated and made some major breakthroughs back in "our day."

As I walked into the restaurant, my friend met me at the door, and said "we have a table back here." Still oblivious, I followed her.

When I entered the reserved back room, there were about 30 people there, including my partner who never, ever, ever shows up for lunch at a restaurant. I had to blink and rub my eyes and then just stand there saying, "wha...wha...why?" I usually don't mumble or stammer, but this was such a surprise, I was at a complete loss for words. Then I saw my boss, and the boss' boss, and the head of that agency, and this organization, and the veritable "who's who" of the field.

I was presented with an award for outstanding contributions to my profession, given by a well-respected, major national organization. I was flabbergasted! I thought these awards were given at the national conference in April. But I found out that what they do is make the actual presentation early, and then invite the recipient and his spouse -- in my case, my partner -- to the big awards presentation at the national conference, at their expense.

I remain dumbfounded and amazed and totally surprised. Seriously! Who woulda thunk? Like Sally Field said a long time ago, "they like me, they really like me!"

But, loyal readers, don't think that this award will go to my head. My partner will keep me grounded, as he manages to do so well. Meanwhile, I'm floating on air, and I can't remove this silly grin from my face.

Life is short: but oh heck, it's so much fun to live!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Return T'werk

I took another day off on Sunday ... almost. I began the day with a warm snuggle with my hunky partner, and thanked him again for everything he did to make me feel comfortable on Saturday. I got dressed, and because it was cold, I wore full leather -- leather jeans, long-sleeved shirt, and Chippewa Hi-Shine boots. Just because I felt like it.

I prepared a great home-made waffle breakfast with all the trimmings for my wonderful man. I still wasn't very hungry, so I just had some orange juice and a little bit of waffle.

After breakfast, I headed over to my aunt's home to pay some bills for her. She asked me to take her to the Italian store to get some canoli that she wanted on a whim. I really didn't want her to sit in the truck with me while I am still coughing and sneezing, and I didn't really feel up to driving 10 miles just for some canoli. I told her that I would make her some home-made canoli later this week, and she said that she could wait.

I then did our weekly grocery shopping with my partner. My partner suggested that we ask the store's bakery specialist for some canoli, and I was pleased that she was able to make some for us on-demand. Saved me a lot of time and trouble, though I would have been happy to do that when I was feeling better.

After dropping the canoli off to my aunt and enjoying making her happy and bringing a smile to her face, we came back home. We unloaded our stuff, and I prepared a light lunch for my partner. I still wasn't hungry, so I had some juice.

After that, I piddled around. I began doing tax work, sending out 1099-MISC forms to private contractors who have done work for various organizations and companies for which I am responsible. I visited a neighbor's home who is the Treasurer of our homeowner's association, but other than that, remained inside the rest of the day.

While I was "piddling," I made some yeast-raised focaccia. After it raised naturally for a couple hours, we applied toppings onto it and baked it. My partner loves his covered with all sorts of fresh veggies. I like mine with just a little cheese, and that's it. After it's baked in our very hot bread oven, it comes out crispy, much like a pizza, but without the oil and fat. It made a great dinner. We accompanied it with a small green salad. Nice, light meal, and I was finally hungry enough to eat.

Oh, and did I say that I went to my aunt's, the grocery store, and my neighbor's dressed in full leather and tall boots? Do you think anyone said anything? Nope, not a word. Honestly, nobody really cares. One clerk at the store who knows that I ride a Harley asked me if I were riding today, and when I said that it was too cold, she just said, "okay." ... well, anyway, it's common for me to go around in full leather, and not hear anyone say anything about what I'm wearing.

I return to work today... I think I'll be up to it. My cold is pretty much gone.

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I Would Like To See At the Inaugural

Lots of fellow gay bloggers have posted their rants about the choice that our President-Elect made for the clergymember who will give the opening prayer at the swearing-in ceremony.

While looking for an image on the 'net, I stumbled upon this one. It says it all much better than I could say in actual words. (Courtesy of the Illinois Republicans!)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lightening the Load

Upon return from my recent business trip, my cold wasn't any better. I walked in my door this morning at 12:45am. My partner was waiting up for me. He took my bag, walked me up the stairs, and tucked me into bed.

About 8:00am, he came to me because he heard me coughing. He brought me some cold medicine. He had a pad and pen in his hand. He said, "you always have things planned for the weekend. What do you have to do, and how can I help you lighten the load?"

What a treasure I have in my man. He knows me. He can read me like a book. He definitely can read my mind.

His concern was that I am not over my cold yet, and I have to take a day completely "off." I had to stay home, rest, and not run myself ragged in doing the things that I do, and also not expose myself to wet and cold weather which could prolong my illness.

I rattled off my list of "gotta do's." He took notes. He called a few people and put some things in motion. That's a big deal -- my partner detests the phone, but if it will ease my load.... He took my aunt to the grocery store, which is something he really doesn't like to do, but if it will ease my load....

My cop tenant took an elderly friend to a doctor's appointment, where someone strong had to be able to help by lifting my friend into and out of a vehicle, and provide physical assistance in getting to the specialist's hard-to-reach location. He had planned to do something else, but if it will ease my load....

My sister came over to drop off some (more) chicken soup, and pick up some maps on which I had made painstaking notations. She brought them over to the guy who I am mentoring to take over my position in 2010 so he can "lead the charge" on a current development project discussion that was to be held this afternoon. My sister had planned to spend time with her daughter, but if it will ease my load....

When my partner returned, he made me lunch, and then suggested I relax in our basement. He set up the CD player to play lots of my old favorites, from The Eagles to REO Speedwagon to Steve Wariner to Linda Ronstadt to Anne Murray and more. He turned the lights down low, and got out the afghan that my Mom spent a year making for me, and covered me with it.

I heard the doorbell ring a few times. Some of my "elder buds" brought over a casserole for dinner, plus some treats including cookies and nutless brownies. This was their way to show that they care, and lighten my load a bit -- as otherwise, I would fret about preparing dinner.

I could hear water running now-and-then. When I went upstairs later, I saw that my partner had unloaded my luggage, washed all of my clothes, and put everything away.

I have often said, "show those you love that you love them," and also, "love is something that you get more of the more you give it away."

I am humbled and very appreciative. I love my friends, my family, and most of all, my man. He shows his love each and every moment of every day. I am so blessed. My load is lightened. I am feeling better -- if perhaps not from the cold symptoms, at least from being relieved of some duties that I wasn't really up to doing.

Traveling with a Code

Yeah, unfortunately, when my partner came down with a cold earlier this week, I knew that it would be a matter of time before I came down with it, too. Starting Tuesday night, it began. Even though I had a huge bowl of my famous chicken soup, I knew I was "in for it" on Wednesday morning when I awoke completely stuffed up and my eyes were rheumy. By Thursday, it was prime-time. Friday I was a little bit better.

Meanwhile, this blog was set up for auto-posting. That is, I wrote all of my blog posts that you have read on Tuesday through Thursday of this week and scheduled them for future posting, one-a-day. I did that on Tuesday morning. This post was written on Thursday night and scheduled for posting on Saturday morning.

I flew to New Orleans on Wednesday to facilitate a meeting. Facilitation is something I love to do, and have been told I'm rather good at it. However, when you're all stuffed up, words come out sounding odd, like: "I have a code." Fortunately, the meeting participants were quite forgiving and understood when I declined to shake their hand -- lest I share this cold with them, too.

Fortunately, the OTC meds I took helped, and while I was weak and tired, I was able to function. I was also able to sleep well. The hotel in which I stayed was very comfortable and quiet.

I didn't go out at night while I was in the French Quarter of the Crescent City. I was just too tired, and I am not a night-owl anyway. That, and the kind of food that New Orleans is known for doesn't agree with me. I think it is great and well-prepared, and deserving of its international recognition. It just doesn't agree with me ever since I donated my kidney to my sister and my gallbladder and appendix to (wherever they take those things when they're removed.)

Since those surgeries, I can't eat diddly-squat. Especially if it's spicy, has mustard or alkyloids in it, or has yogurt culture. Or is green, yellow, white, or orange and made of vegetable matter. Or coffee or tea. or CORN -- don't get me anywhere near corn! Popped, fried, boiled, grilled, or raw -- corn sends me running. Unfortunately, not much is tolerable these days, especially when I travel. Seems like travel compounds the problems.

One good thing about serving my mother-in-law during her Christmas visit, or coming down with a cold -- I lost my appetite, and thus I lost ten pounds without even trying over the last two weeks. I have returned to swimming regularly at the University, which will help me keep the weight off and maybe lose some more. (And don't lecture me about "healthy eating": the foods that are healthy cause me to, um, "lose them." My diet is under a nutritionist's supervision, so I don't really need more advice on that front.)

I am practicing better portion control of the foods that I prepare for myself and my partner. I don't eat out. I pack a lunch every day. I never was one to "go for coffee" at the stiff-the-yuppies shops like Starsucks. I have (so far so good) cut out snacking and my weakness, Coca-cola. Yeah, (R), that high fructose corn syrup isn't good for me, has made me gain weight, and you'll be happy to know that my liquid intake has changed in 2009 to water, water, water, and a glass of 1% milk for dinner. And more water. Lots of water. Fortunately, our tap water is pretty good. I've got lots of it bottled and drink it all day.

When this is posted, I should be safely back home, nestled in my own bed, snuggled next to my hunky partner, and returning to a routine which will ease me back to good health and eating "normally" again -- but with portion control, no snacking, and water instead of Cokes. Let's see how this goes. Wish me well!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

MAL Weather Forecast

Time is approaching for Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend (MAL): January 16 - 19, 2009, in Washington, DC.

Will it rain? Will it snow? Will it be icy? Will the sun shine on MAL and the Presidential Inaugural on January 20?

I'm watching the long-range forecasts. I post an updated "MAL Weather Forecast" on my website, and try to update it daily. Weather during past MAL events has ranged from warm and sunny to wet, icy, and snowy. It really varies.

Typical of the inter-regional climate zone where we are located, tempered by the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic ocean, the Appalachian hills, and the terrain in general -- we frequently experience all sorts of weather, and some of it at the same time. It is quite common to have snow in one place, freezing rain a few miles away, and no precipitation just around the corner. Especially during winter. Even though Kansans and Missourans like to claim that they invented the phrase, "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," that phrase is applicable in the DC Metro area, too.

My partner and I are considering going to the Hotboots party on Saturday, January 17, from 2 - 4pm at the Green Lantern. Our decision, however, will be last-minute and weather-dependent. If there is anything frozen falling from the sky or on the streets, we're not going. My partner can't walk on that stuff, and I don't want to deal with it. Yeah, okay, call me a "weather wuss," but I'd rather be safe, warm, and happy instead of cold and wet, and have my partner risk slipping on an icy sidewalk while walking from the Metro station to the bar.

Should the weather be decent, then we will be guided by news reports about crowds. It is very hard to discern between media hype and reality. Though in the nature of my job, I am aware of some of the reality for inaugural event planning; nonetheless, the crowd estimates at any given time of day and on the weekend leading up to the inaugural ceremony are a crap-shoot. Nobody really knows how many people will be in DC during that time until they actually materialize. (Hmmm, now that sounds like Scotty is beaming them over using the Transporter, or that they're coming from Mars. Well, could be, could be.... Most locals with a lick-o-sense are staying home on Inauguration Day and away from the city for the whole weekend, leaving the crowd-fending to the visitors.)

IF we go to the Hotboots party, that's the only MAL-related event that we will attend that weekend. We're kinda "over" attending fetish events, about which I have blogged in the past. Been there, done that, got the t-shirts, the boots shined, and suffered the rants of enough closeted once-a-year leather fetish queens to last a lifetime.

Meanwhile, if you are planning to attend MAL this year, Read my forecast. It may help you in planning, knowing that MAL is right before the Inaugural, where zillions of gape-jawed visitors will be descending on the city. It will be amusing to watch the leather dudes interact with the throngs of other tourists, but that's for another blog post later.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Uncomfortable Security Uptick

As I got off the Metro train recently, I observed three young guys in navy blue BDUs carrying rifles watching people as they got off the train.

In the run-up to anticipated crowds before the Presidential Inaugural ceremony on January 20, I knew that there will be increased security throughout Washington, DC, and in public venues like our Metro transit system.

But seeing these guys with their rifles joking with each other, while watching people dash to and from the subway, just made me feel uneasy. I know they are doing their job -- and one half of me is glad that they're there, and the other half of me is uncomfortable. Am I alone in having divided feelings?

I've seen men like this before when I have traveled, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In those places, seeing men in uniforms carrying rifles is commonplace. But not here...

I guess I just long for the "good ol' days" of my childhood, when I remember that you could walk up the front steps of the U.S. Capitol building and go right into it, accompanying visitors from far away places and give a "tour by wandering." Or go fly a kite on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Springtime. Or, speaking of the Monument, bring coolers and portable grills to the Mall and have a grand picnic on the Fourth of July. (Nowadays, you have to go through a metal detector at designated bottlenecked "check points" and leave the grills and coolers at home.)

Alas, those carefree days are gone, left now with everyone looking over his shoulder for the next bad guy. And the DHS folks are taking credit for the fact that we haven't had another attack since Sept. 11, 2001. Perhaps so, but I feel now that with all the barriers, protections, and security in place, the bad guys won after all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WYSIWYG and Confidence

"WYSIWYG" is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get." I was sharing this with a buddy via email yesterday when we were exchanging thoughts about self-confidence.

So what you see in this picture is what you get, or would have gotten (or seen) if you trailed me around on Sunday when I was going about activities in the community. I went to one elderly man's home to replace a hallway lighting fixture so that it can accommodate a much brighter bulb, so he can see better. I went to another elderly woman's to replace a hinge on a door that had broken and was preventing the door from closing. I went to a third home to install a grab-bar in the bathtub/shower, so the woman could be safer as she entered and exited to bathe.

And I was wearing Wesco harness boots and a leather shirt. Why? Comfort. Preference. That's it. (I wore the jeans over the boots. Wearing jeans inside my boots while visiting older folks' homes to do repairs is a bit "much." I also didn't don the Muir Cap. Even this Bootman/Leatherman knows his limits.)

My friend with whom I have been exchanging email further said this: Although the journey of self-discovery never ends, perhaps our confidence in ourselves grows as we age to the point where we care little about attempting to be something that we're not.

He was referencing how he is feeling about mingling with other gay men, and feeling more confident in coming out as a gay man. I understand that, and appreciate his insights. You know, it's interesting, but another confident, masculine gay man from the same state has characterized himself as "WYSIWYG" -- and he is wonderful to behold. Truthfully, to me, the "what-you-see" stuff is related to outward appearance of self-confidence. (Perhaps boots improve that? I'm not sure, but many feel that a man wearing boots exudes a confident appearance.)

For me, I give a huge tribute to my parents, who encouraged me to be a confident person, starting back in grade school where I was narrator in the second-grade play, in junior high school when I gave a speech to our state's General Assembly about an issue about which my peers and I were concerned, and in high school when I ran -- and lost -- then ran again the next year to win a student government position. Same is true through college where I ran and won positions on various student organizations. Continuing to this day, where I serve in various public service positions.

It all comes down to self-confidence. I was a confident guy long before I knew what "gay" meant. I thank my parents and my siblings for instilling that in me. (Guess it's one good thing about being among the youngest in the family -- you have to learn how to stand up for yourself!)

I no longer give a darn about what other people may think about my physique or looks. All that is outside stuff. I am who I am. My parents, family, and true friends taught me that what's on the inside is what counts most. Further, I see being confident and being gay as independent things, and I am both.

My inside is confident. My outside, is, well: WYSIWYG!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cure for the Common Cold

My partner has a bad cold. Poor fella. He's always washing his hands and following standard procedures of good hygiene to minimize exposure to germs. Nonetheless, he and his mother who was visiting during the holidays both have a cold. I guess they were exposed when they went to the movies.

Sunday afternoon, Guido (our chef) and I spent several hours making our Italian chicken soup -- guaranteed to cure everything, including the common cold. Well, I believe that, anyway. Even if a cold isn't "cured," the soup sure makes you feel better.

We follow my Nonna's (grandmother's) recipe, and Guido posted it on his website, here. Mangi e goda!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cookin' Italian

When it's cold out and I can't ride my Harley or spend much time outdoors without freezing my buns off, I like to spend time in my kitchen with my partner and "batch cook." That is, in anticipation of a busy week ahead, I cook foods that can keep well frozen or refrigerated for the upcoming week. That way, when I get home from work, I can just pop something in the oven to heat up, toss a salad, set the table, and we're ready to dine well.

Today, my partner and I made home-made ravioli. The photo shows me running the pasta through a roller connected to our KitchenAid mixer. The roller is a special attachment that you can get for the mixer. It works great!

We made three batches of ravioli which freeze really well, and also a lasagna layered with home-made noodles that I had made last week. I made a great cheese mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, asagio, parmesan, and romano cheeses which we used for the ravioli. I had a lot of it left over after making the ravioli, so I thought that we could use the rest of it in a "small" lasagna. The lasagna will make two meals for both of us.

All together, the cost of the ingredients -- flour, eggs, cheeses, spices -- was less than US$10. For five filling main course dishes for two people, that's pretty good!

We don't eat out -- not (necessarily) because we're cheap or because my partner doesn't like to be around people -- but because we prefer to eat in the home we built, and enjoy my creations. I also have a rather strict diet. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that I can't eat without getting sick. Thus, by cooking my own meals, I can ensure that nothing goes into the food I eat that will make me ill.

The ability to cook was inherited in my Italian blood, and borne out by watching my Nonna (Italian grandmother) and my Mom cook over the years. My Mom's spirit was with me, too. I say that because every time I see a rainbow cast from a Native American "suncatcher" that my Mom gave to me for good luck in our new house, I think it is my Mom visiting us. Today as I was rolling pasta though the press, my partner noticed a rainbow from the suncatcher on my boots. Thanks, Mom, for visiting, and sharing joy with us in our kitchen as we cooked, laughed, talked, and enjoyed several pleasant hours.

Life is short: wear your boots while you cook!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Vintage Frye Boot Catalogs

I was going through some drawers yesterday and came across two catalogs for Frye boots. The catalogs were undated, but in doing some research, I found one catalog was produced about 1973 and another in 1975. I scanned the pages from these catalogs and posted them on my website. The company sure could produce a great catalog back in the day!

Vintage Frye boots are really cool. I wore them all the time in high school and college, and still wear them frequently to this day. There's nothing quite like the original Frye boots.

I learned in my research that the John A. Frye Shoe Company was founded in 1863 in Marlborough (or Marlboro), Massachusetts, and continued to produce their shoes and boots until the company was purchased by Reebok, International, in 1987.

Reebok held the company only for two years. In 1989, they sold it to a British holding company by the name of Hanson Industries. Hanson licensed the Frye name to the Jimlar Corporation, based in Great Neck, New York in 1993. Jimlar bought the Frye company name and assets from Hanson outright in 1998. Boots continued to be made under the Frye name in Massachusetts until 2003, when Jimlar closed the plant, and outsourced bootmaking to China.

Since the manufacture of Frye boots was moved to China, it is my opinion that materials and workmanship have suffered. If you want real honest-to-goodness Frye boots, search using the keywords "vintage Frye boots" on eBay.

Meanwhile, have a look at my old catalogs. Enjoy!

Friday, January 2, 2009

95 Years Young

On Monday, December 29, a friend called to say that a gentleman who lives in the retirement community nearby was celebrating his 95th birthday, and had always wanted to go for a ride on a Harley with a "biker dude." She wondered if I could fulfill his birthday wish.

Granted! The weather cooperated. It was chilly, but not unreasonably cold. I wore full leather (breeches, tall boots, leather shirt and jacket.) I showed up at his place at 11:30. His two sons and a grandson lifted him gently onto the back of my throbbing machine. He was wrapped up warmly in a parka and longjohns. We gave him a pair of warm gloves and a fitted him with a full-face helmet. Off we went!

I took him for a ride on the 3-mile circumference road around the community. He laughed out loud all the way. What sheer joy!

When we arrived at the restaurant where he was to celebrate his birthday lunch, a huge crowd was there to greet us. His family lifted him gently off my bike, and he had the biggest smile on his face as his helmet was removed. I'll never forget the look on his face -- and on mine -- as I was in the very fortunate position to bring joy to this nice man, his family and friends, and to show that us "big bad booted leathered Harley-riding bikers" can be gentle souls, as well.

Life is short: show those you care about that you care, and bring smiles to all around.